Last month, Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Roshan died when a motorcyclist sped by and tossed a bomb at the scientist’s car. This is the fourth Iranian nuclear scientist to be killed by a passing motorcyclist in two years.
Iran blames the U.S. and Israel, citing the nations’ intense mistrust of Iran’s nuclear program. These significantly strained relations are caused in part by international isolation of Iran via constraints on their trade under sanctions issued by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations. Strained relations can have severe effects regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the efficacy of international involvement there in the future. The international community, particularly the U.S., needs to rethink its Iranian nuclear containment policy.
Thus far, response from the U.S., U.N. and EU has been to tighten economic sanctions and oil embargoes against Iran.
The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency reported last November that Iran’s enrichment of uranium has moved toward the development of a nuclear weapon, despite the effect trade penalties have had on their economy.
While Iran insists their program is peaceful, the U.S. has shifted gears, accusing Iran of covertly enriching weapons-grade uranium. The accusation has fueled a wave of international speculation, leading to restrictions on Iran’s import and export capacity and now an oil embargo. With restricted trade on a key export of Iran’s economy, the country is quickly being thrown into vilified, isolated obscurity.
Isolating Iran will further fuel their pursuit of weapons — if Iran is indeed seeking nuclear weapons. Iran’s IAEA envoy responded to the November 2011 IAEA report by saying its “only immediate effect is a further strengthening” of the nuclear program.
Iran may be maintaining its nuclear program because the U.S. has nuclear weapons. Isolating Iran while having nuclear weapons will fuel the fire of mistrust.
Patching up relations with Iran, or at least engaging in more dialogue, will help the U.S. and the U.N. understand why the Iranian government is adamant about their nuclear program. Without official evidence, sanctioning and making Iran the enemy will halt possible future negotiations, built behind a wall of suspicion and insecurity.
Without a reworking of nuclear containment policies, Iran will continue to feel threatened and blame the U.S. and Israel for sabotage. Strained relations mean Iran will guard its nuclear program to protect itself, no matter how its economy is affected and how many nuclear scientists are sacrificed in the process for greater security.